Legal action eyed vs. VMC for molasses spillage in river


A legal action is being eyed against the Victorias Milling Company for the spillage of molasses in a river that caused the foul odor affecting residents of 11 barangays in Victorias City for more than two weeks now.

Affected residents of Victorias may also have to endure the rancid odor for another five weeks, as estimated by representatives of VMC, who attended the inquiry initiated by the Sangguniang Panlungsod Wednesday, May 24.

The VMC representatives said it will take them another month and a week to completely address the stench.

“I don’t think the people can wait that long. That is unacceptable to Victoriahanons,” Councilor Dino Acuña, who chairs the Committee on Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, said.

During the inquiry, it was found out that about three metric tons of molasses, which Acuña said is equivalent to 1.8 million liters of molasses, spilled into the Malihaw River, as admitted by VMC representatives.

Victorias Milling Company photo from Facebook Page

Acuña said he will be filing resolutions during their regular session Monday next week that will ask the City Legal Office to study possible legal action against VMC for violation of the Clean Air and Water Act, and Environmental Code Ordinance of Victorias, among other environmental related laws.

He added that he will request the executive department to come up with an agreement with VMC, requiring the company to implement all mitigating measures to avoid similar incidents.

The agreement, Acuña said, shall be put in writing.

As a stopgap measure, the VMC has increased the dosage of enzymes being put into its water treatment facility, where spilled molasses recovered from the river is stored, to address the odor.

While VMC has extended assistance to 200 affected families in coastal areas of Brgy. 6A, Eric Arcobilla, chairman of Brgy. 13, complained that they were bypassed by VMC.

Arcobilla said residents of barangays 13 and 9 were also affected by the rancid odor.

Other affected barangays are located in the poblacion of Victorias, Acuña said.

Affected residents also aired their disgust against VMC on social media, and slammed the company for repeated mistakes.

In a statement, VMC said it immediately set in motion its standard operating measures to address the concerns of Victorias residents.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused,” VMC said, as the management made assurances of their continuing commitment to protect the environment and the community.

The molasses spillage happened May 5, after a 10,000 metric ton capacity molasses tank of the VMC exploded and its contents spilled into the Malihaw River, initial investigations of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said.

VMC representatives, however, clarified that not all molasses spilt into the Malihaw River.

While they experienced a similar incident in the past, Acuña described the latest one as “much worse”. / GB